The Greek Papyri 271 than for another, and as a lesson in social histoiy few things are more instructive than to read through a series of deeds of marriage or divorce and to observe in the former the varying obligations assigned at different periods to husband and wife, in the latter the purely business-like character of the earlier documents and the somewhat long-winded pretexts of the later ones. Or we may compare an ordinary will of the Roman period with, for example, the donatio mortis causa of the fourth cen- tury in which Flavius Abraham, an ex-praepositus in the Roman army, binds himself to bequeath half his property to the holy Church, his wife to have the use of the other half until her death when it reverts to the Church, and gives instructions for all his slaves, male and female, to be freed (this, however, is not un- common in pagan wills). Such dispositions of a man of high rank are an epitome of a whole social revolution. To the social historian few documents are more valuable than contracts; if we take a representative selection,1 we shall find that each gives a vignette of life in the ancient world. In one, a deed of adoption, the adoptive parents promise the real parents that the child shall inherit their estate and not be reduced to slavery; in another, two brothers set free 'under sanction of Zeus, Earth and Sun' the third part of a female slave which they hold jointly, the other two-thirds being already emanci- pated; in a third, a father apprentices his son to a weaver, the latter to feed and clothe him and the father to pay a drachma for every day that the boy plays truant, while under the terms of another such agreement the boy is cto sit at his teacher's feet from sunrise to sundown', but to enjoy twenty days' holiday with pay. Somewhat similar is the contract by which a man places his slave with a certain Apollonius to learn shorthand, two years being allowed the slave to learn to read and write it perfectly. Many, as we should expect, relate to agriculture; in 1 Each of those cited below with the exception of the last will be found ia vol. i of the Select Papyri in the Loeb Library.